Viking has celebrated an exciting step in the development of its first expedition ship.
The innovative and highly anticipated 378-passenger Viking Octantis was "floated out" in mid-December at Fincantieri's Vard Shipyard in Norway, marking a major construction milestone and the first time that the new ship has touched water. Viking Octantis is scheduled to debut in early 2022 and will spend its inaugural season sailing voyages to Antarctica and North America's Great Lakes.
A second, identical expedition ship, Viking Polaris, is set to debut in summer 2022 and will sail journeys to Antarctica and the Arctic.
Viking has also developed a series of short videos about the new Viking expedition voyages, ship design and prestigious scientific partnerships.
"Working with Fincantieri over the last eight years, we have built the world's most beautiful ocean ships," Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen said. "We are pleased to continue our partnership with Fincantieri's VARD and celebrate this important milestone in the construction of our first expedition vessel.
"We are perfecting polar expedition cruising, and we will usher in a new era of comfortable exploration in the heart of North America."
Hagen says that Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, will allow cruisers expand their exploration -- "to the ends of the earth as well as closer to home."
The float out is significant because it denotes a ship moving into its final stage of construction. The ship was then moved to a nearby location to continue construction and work on the interior design.
Explorers Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft will be honored as ceremonial godmothers to Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, respectively. Arnesen, a native Norwegian, became the first woman in the world to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole in 1994. Bancroft is the first woman to successfully ski to both poles. Arnesen and Bancroft also became the first women to ski across Antarctica in 2001. Together, they co-founded Bancroft Arnesen Explore/Access Water, an initiative that is working on environmental conservation and sustainability projects related to water access around the world.
About Viking' New Expedition Ships
The new Polar Class 6 Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris will carry up to 378 adventurers in 189 staterooms. These expedition ships are designed by the same architects and engineers who designed Viking's wildly popular 930-passenger ocean ships.
The Viking expedition ships are optimally sized and built for unique exploration -- small enough to navigate remote polar regions and the St. Lawrence River, while large enough to provide superior handling and stability in the roughest seas. The ships feature public spaces that are familiar to Viking's ocean cruisers, but these spaces have been reimagined for the expeditions. Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris also will feature new public spaces created specifically for expeditions.
Straight bows, longer hulls and state-of-the-art fin stabilizers allow the ships to provide the calmest possible journey. Ice-strengthened Polar Class 6 hulls will provide the safest way to explore; and U-tank stabilizers will significantly decrease rolling by up to 50 percent when the ships are stationary.
Viking's expedition ships will feature modern Scandinavian design with elegant touches, intimate spaces and attention to detail.
Check Out the Design and Public Space Highlights:
The Hangar: An industry first, The Hangar brings an astonishing level of comfort to your expedition cruise. The Hangar is an in-ship marina that allows the launch of small excursion boats. The most innovative feature is an 85-foot slipway that allows you to load into the boats from a flat, stable surface inside the ship, shielded from wind and waves. There is also a FerryBox, a set of instruments continuously collecting and displaying data on water quality, oxygen content, plankton composition and other interesting marine data about your location.
The Laboratory: Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris also will serve as research vessels with onboard teams of Viking Resident Scientists working on a variety of studies. Developed in consultation with Cambridge University and Viking's other academic partners, The Laboratory, at 430 square feet, is designed to support a broad range of research activities and is equipped with wet and dry laboratory facilities, a sample processing area, fume cupboard, freezer and cool storage, comprehensive microscope optics and extensive bench space for analysis-specific instruments.
Curious passengers can enjoy supervised access to The Laboratory, which is located in a glass-enclosed mezzanine above The Hangar, to learn from and participate with scientists undertaking primary research, an experience unique to Viking.
Expedition Equipment: Viking offers numerous ways for to experience the destinations. These expeditions will feature a complete program to please cruisers who seek out all kinds of activities of levels of action, all at no extra charge.
Expedition equipment on Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris will include a fleet Zodiacs designed for use in even the harshest environments; a fleet of two-seater Arctic-tested kayaks; and two 12-seater convertible RIBs (rigid inflatable boats). Each ship will also feature two six-passenger submarines that have revolving seats and spherical windows for 270-degree views and an incomparable undersea experience.
Your Viking Expedition Kit will contain items like boots, binoculars and waterproof pants; each excursion will carry a full range of safety equipment, such as satellite phones, VHF radios, ropes, life jackets and a comprehensive shore-survival kit; and all cruisers receive complimentary use of excursion gear, which includes specialty items like trekking poles, snowshoes and skis.
The Aula & Finse Terrace: Viking has created an immersive venue for learning at sea with The Aula, a stunning panoramic auditorium at the stern. Inspired by the University of Oslo's noted ceremonial hall where the Nobel Peace Prize was historically awarded, The Aula will offer a dynamic venue for lectures and entertainment, with floor-to-ceiling windows and 270-degree views. Adjacent to The Aula through sliding glass walls is the Finse Terrace, an outdoor lounge area with comfortable couches and warming lava rock "firepits" -- perfect for viewing the surroundings of your destinations. Together, the two spaces can be combined to create an unmatched indoor-outdoor experience.
Nordic Balcony: All staterooms on Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris feature a "Nordic Balcony," a sunroom that quickly can be converted into an outdoors viewing platform. The balcony's floor-to-ceiling glass at the very edge of the ship lets passengers savor the views, while keeping out the harsher elements. However, if you want to step into the outdoors, the top of the glass lowers to transform the stateroom into a sheltered lookout, with an observation shelf at elbow level (this shelf is great to stabilize your binoculars or camera).
The ships offer six stateroom categories that range from 222 square feet to 1,223 square feet of space: Nordic Balcony, Deluxe Nordic Balcony, Nordic Penthouse, Nordic Junior Suite, Explorer Suite and Owner's Suite.
All staterooms feature the "Nordic Balcony," as well as a king-size bed and large bathroom with spacious glass-enclosed shower, heated floor and anti-fog mirror. Your cabin is also equipped with a unique floor-to-ceiling drying closet that circulates warm air to dry and store clothing and expedition gear.
Expedition Ship Suites: The Nordic Junior Suites (322 square feet) and Explorer Suites (580 square feet) on Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris rival those on Viking's fleet of sleek ocean ships, with abundant wood detailing and amenities that include additional storage and seating, an expanded bathroom with extended shower and double sinks, welcome Champagne, a fully stocked mini-bar replenished daily, complimentary laundry and shoeshine services, priority restaurant reservations and more.
Explorer Suites also feature two separate rooms and a full outdoor veranda. Additionally, each ship features one Owner's Suite at 1,223 square feet, which is twice the size of the Explorer Suites. With the most exclusive accommodations and amenities on board, it features two separate rooms -- a living room with a six-seat dining table and a bedroom -- as well as a 792 square-foot private garden with a traditional Norwegian badestamp (wood-sided hot tub) and outdoor dining table.
Aquavit Terrace & Pools: Located at the stern and featuring a retractable glass dome, the Aquavit Terrace is an indoor-outdoor heated sanctuary allowing cruisers to be surrounded by the beauty of the destination -- as they lounge in the space or swim in three different temperature-controlled pools, including an "inside-outside" swimming experience.
The Nordic Spa & Fitness Center: In keeping with Viking's Nordic heritage, The Nordic Spa onboard is designed with the Scandinavian holistic wellness philosophy in mind. The thermal suite features a sauna, snow grotto and chaise lounges, as well as a warm hydrotherapy pool and badestamp (hot tub), surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows. A state-of-the-art fitness center features a full array of workout equipment and machines.
Explorers' Lounge: Similar to Viking's ocean ships, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris offer a two-deck Explorers' Lounge at the bow of the ship. This is the ideal space relaxing, enjoying a cocktail or coffee and a book while taking in the stunning scenery through double-height windows.
Dining Choices: Viking's expedition ships will offer an array of dining options that build on the successful venues from Viking's ocean ships but which have been redesigned for expeditions. The Restaurant will offer fine dining featuring regional cuisine and always-available classics; the casual World Cafe will be a new "market" concept that offers live cooking, an open kitchen, bakery, grill and premium seafood and sushi choices, as well as a wide range of international flavors; Mamsen's, named for "Mamsen," the matriarch of the founder of the cruise line, Torstein Hagen, serves Scandinavian-inspired fare; Manfredi's offers the best of Italian cuisine; and 24-hour room service is included in your cruise fare.
A Journey of Enrichment: Viking is striving to create "the thinking person's expedition." This means connecting passengers to the destinations through authentic experiences.
As part of that commitment to destination-focused learning, Viking's exclusive partnerships with the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology will match leading researchers and educators with each expedition. The onboard expedition program is designed to prepare you for your onshore experiences, with more than 25 experts accompanying each journey -- the Viking Expedition Team (expedition leader and staff, photographer and submarine pilots) and Viking Resident Scientists (biologists, botanists, geologists, glaciologists, oceanographers, ornithologists, polar experts and researchers).
Onboard, daily briefings and world-class lectures will inform cruisers about the places they visit. You get to engage with working scientists from renowned academic institutions in The Laboratory, or you can participate directly in citizen science programs. Onshore, passengers can assist in fieldwork or interact through experiential activities during landings -- such as monitoring birds to help identify migratory patterns; accompanying scientists to collect samples; or working alongside a professional photographer to learn how best to capture scenic landscapes.
Sustainable Features: Compliant to all guidelines and regulatory requirements from AECO, IAATO, the Antarctic Treaty System and the Governor of Svalbard, Viking's expedition ships minimize environmental impact and meet the most stringent emissions and biosecurity standards. Additionally, the straight bow reduces fuel consumption, and a dynamic positioning system enables the ships to hover over the seabed without anchoring, allowing access to pristine environments without damage.
These ships look certain to offers a rich and immersive expedition experience. We're especially excited to explore the world again on a Viking expedition cruise, as we already know they have a knack for making river and ocean cruising quite memorable.
Thanks for reading,